Difficult to recruit young lay judges
Despite the government’s goal to recruit younger lay judges the average age for a person in that position is still above 55-years-old. Only one fifth of the newly recruited lay judges are under the age of 45, Swedish Radio News reports.
Instead of a jury of peers the Swedish legal system uses three or more lay judges, without special legal training, to help the presiding judge make a decision. These lay judges are appointed for a four year period usually in connection with national elections.
The lay judges are usually nominated by political parties, but there is nothing in the law that says they need to be politically active. In fact the centre-right government Alliance said shortly after the election in 2006 that they should actively try to recruit people outside of the political parties.
Bengt Rahm, 82, from the Liberal Party, says he can see several reasons for why it is difficult to find younger lay judges.
“To make a person available to attend a trial that might go on for one week or fourteen days. I think it is difficult to let go of a good employee who works as a lay judge. That is when it is good to have pensioners available,” he told Swedish Radio News.
The average age of a lay judge is currently 56.8-years-old, a small increase compared to last years 56.7-years-old.
But despite recruitment campaigns it has been difficult to recruit younger persons, according to Örjan Hägglund, at the Court Administration.
“The lay judges are supposed to represent the voice of the people in a courtroom and should represent all categories when it comes to gender, ethnicity, age and professional background,” he said.